Student Interest in Family Medicine Improves But Slows After Two Years of Increases

Friday, March 16, 2012

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6252

LEAWOOD, Kan. – Interest in family medicine held steady among graduating medical students this year, according to the 2012 National Residency Matching Program results released today. This year, family medicine residency training programs this year attracted 1,335 U.S. medical school graduates to the specialty — up 18 over 2011.

Known as the Match, the program aligns graduating medical students with residency training programs in specialties they want to pursue. In this year’s Match, the total number of students choosing family medicine — which includes U.S. medical school graduates and international medical graduates — was 2,611 compared to 2,576 in 2011. This year’s “fill rate” is 94.5 percent, up slightly from the 2011 rate of 94.4 percent.

This year’s results are a disappointment after two consecutive years of increased medical student interest in family medicine, according to Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Family medicine is the foundation of health care and is integral to ensuring that Americans get the care they need, when they need it, from the most appropriate health are professional,” he said. “That entry into the health care system begins with the family physician.”

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act — such as the Primary Care Incentive Program and pilot projects that support the patient-centered medical home by paying for quality of care and the administrative costs of coordinating care — are designed to encourage more medical students to become primary care physicians, according to Stream.

“These incentives are a good beginning, but we can’t lose momentum. We need to double down on programs that generate student interest,” said Stream. “Today’s students have to overcome barriers that are ingrained in the system. But we know what needs to be done to reform the system and ensure Americans have access to a primary care doctor.

“Now is the time to reform the medical education infrastructure, tear down the barriers to students who want to become primary care physicians, and establish a practice environment that ensures that young primary care physicians can build successful practices that serve the needs of their communities.”

AAFP’s recommendations for building the primary care physician workforce to meet the nation’s needs.

  1. Identify medical schools that serve community need.
  2. Reform graduate medical education funding.
  3. Increase support for programs such as Health Professions Training Programs (Section 747 of Title VII) and National Health Service Corps.
  4. Close the gap between primary medical care and subspecialty care payment.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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